Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Jon Kabat Zinn on Mindfulness

Toward a Mindful Society

Barry Boyce interviews Jon Kabat-Zinn, who was a keynote speaker at the Creating a Mindful Society conference in New York City.
Photo by Liza Matthews

Does mindfulness go beyond simply cultivating our attentiveness?

The ultimate promise of mindfulness is much larger than that, more profound. It helps us understand that our conventional view of ourselves and even what we mean by “self” is incomplete in some very important ways. Mindfulness helps us recognize how and why we mis-take the actuality of things for some story we create, and then makes it possible to chart a path toward greater sanity, well-being, and purpose.

Why do you think a scientific approach is important in spreading the practice of mindfulness?

I am not really interested in “spreading” mindfulness, so much as I am interested in igniting passion in people for what is deepest and best within all of us, but which is usually hidden and rarely accessible. Science is a particular way of understanding the world that allows some people to approach what they would otherwise shun, and so can be used as a skillful means for opening people’s minds. By bringing science together with meditation, we’re beginning to find new ways, in language people can understand, to show the benefits of training oneself to become intimate with the workings of one’s own mind in a way that generates greater insight and clarity.

The science is also showing interesting and important health benefits of such mind–body training and practices, and is now beginning to elucidate the various pathways though which mindfulness may be exerting its effects on the brain (emotion regulation, working memory, cognitive control, attention, activation in specific somatic maps of the body, cortical thickening in specific regions) and the body (symptom reduction, greater physical well-being, immune function enhancement, epigenetic up and down regulation of activity in large numbers and classes of genes). It is also showing that meditation can bring a sense of meaning and purpose to life, based on understanding the nonseparation of self and other. Given the condition we find ourselves in these days on this planet, understanding our interconnectedness is not a spiritual luxury; it’s a societal imperative.

Go to:  http://www.mindful.org/the-mindful-society/vision/toward-a-mindful-society
 and read  more on the article and answer such questions as: 
What are some of the new frontiers that mindfulness has entered in recent years? and,
Does the synchronizing of mind and body bring benefits beyond functioning effectively?

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